Newly formed Fisheries Commission Council tasked with ending illegal fishing
Ms Mavis Hawa Koomson, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, tasked the newly formed Board of Directors of the Fisheries Commission to find a lasting solution to the endless threat of illegal fishing hanging over the country.
She said Ghana risked being sanctioned by the European Union (EU) if drastic measures were not implemented to curb the trend.
Ghana loses between 40 and 50 million US dollars per year due to illegal fishing, known as “saiko”.
Ms Koomson, at the inauguration of the new council in Accra on Thursday, noted that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing remains a major challenge for the sector.
She therefore instructed members to institute measures to help deal with the threat.
The 11-member Board of Directors is chaired by Professor Francis KE Nunoo, Head of the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Ghana.
The other members are Dr Michael Arthur-Dadzie, Esq., Director, Fisheries Commission; Mr. Kofi Asumadu Apenteng, Ministry of Transport; Commodore Godwin Livinus Bessing of the Department of Defense; Ms. Lydia I. Essuah, Ministry of Environment and Nana Jojo Solomon, Association of Ghanaian Marine Fisheries Officers.
The others are; Dr Ruby Asmah, Institute for Water Research; Mr. Wilson Kwabena Darkwah, Ghana Irrigation Development Authority; Mr. Stephen Adjokatcher, National Fisheries Association (artisanal fishermen); Ms. Levina Owus; National Fisheries Association (owners of fishing vessels) and Mr. Augustine Acheampong Otoo, President’s candidate.
Ms Koomson said that as part of efforts to tackle IUU fishing, the ministry, through the National Pre-Blended Fuel Secretariat, had suspended the supply of pre-blended fuel to some communities in the Greater Accra and Northeastern regions. center who have engaged in “Saiko”, to serve as a deterrent to other communities across the country.
“Until they come and tell us that they won’t and we also think they won’t, we can provide them with a premix,” she added.
She said so far around five people have been arrested, prosecuted and fined while more than 20 generators have been seized in the process.
The minister said that the fishing sector plays a vital role in the socio-economic development of the country as it supports more than three million Ghanaians.
The government’s vision, she said, was to transform and develop the aquaculture sub-sector to increase domestic fish production, reduce fish imports and create employment opportunities throughout. the value chain by providing an enabling environment.
The main initiatives undertaken to achieve this include the implementation of Aquaculture for Food and Employment (AFJ), the improvement of the production and supply of good quality fry, the provision of extension, provision of infrastructure (hatcheries) and essential aquaculture inputs, she added.
She revealed that in the coming days, the ministry will distribute more than seventeen thousand bags of animal feed to AFJ program beneficiaries to boost production.
Ms. Koomson therefore urged board members to initiate policies and programs to ensure the success of the program.
The Minister also instructed members of the Board of Directors to prepare a new Fisheries Law to replace the current 2002 Fisheries Law (Law 625); develop a new national fisheries management plan to replace the previous plan which expired in 2019 and prepare a new national fisheries and aquaculture policy.
In addition, they should intensify the enforcement of fishing laws and regulations by security agencies, implement the annual closed fishing season, as a measure of stock recovery, in accordance with Article 84 of the Law on Fisheries 2002 (Law 625), prepare and issue canoe identification cards, as well as assess and license all vessels in the country.
Professor Nunoo assured the Minister of the Board’s willingness to work together to turn the tide of the sector and make it more viable.
“On behalf of my members, Honorable Minister, we want to promise that we will work very hard, we will be very honest and will work with frankness and passion to help build the industry,” he said.